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Alfred Schutz And Phenomenology Term Paper

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Updated: Jun 2nd, 2019

Phenomenology was first introduced by Husserl and was later developed by other philosophers who extended the idea to existentialism. Husserl suggested that the main objective of phenomenology was to study human phenomena with no regard to appearances, causes or aims. The objective was to analyze the experience of human phenomena in consciousness and in psychological result of perception and reasoning.

In essence, phenomenology seeks to comprehend how people form meaning. The most important idea is intersubjectivity, which forms the basis of individual’s experience of the world. People experience the world through others; this implies that people create meaning based on actions of other people. It also implies that the completeness of social artifacts and cultural items has its basis in people’s actions (Zeitlin, 2000).

Although Alfred Schutz pursued a career in banking, his interests were in phenomenological philosophy. He sought to form a phenomenological foundation for the social sciences. Schutz had a lot of contact with the real world outside the constraints of academics through his daily life. For this reason, he was able to make important observations in his associates making his writings readable and accessible to many people.

To have a good sociological understanding, he studied the work of Husserl extensively. This study contributed to success of his first work, “the phenomenology of the social world.” His first work contributed to his success and recognition by Husserl with whom he worked closely until his demise (Zeitlin, 2000).

Considering the work of Husserl, his predecessor, Schutz’s work qualified him as the greatest contributor of phenomenological philosophy. Philosophy and social science had unique importance in his reasoning. In his work, Schutz combined jurisprudence, economics, political science, sociology, arts history, philosophy and music.

This combination is unique because social science in the US does not include jurisprudence and historical sciences. In science theory, Schutz was categorically concerned with fundamental concepts and by itself suggested scientific thinking.

Schutz acknowledged that social and cultural scientists often combined science theory. This gave the philosophers and the scientists a common ground in analysis of fundamental concepts and methodology (Cuzzort & King, 2001).

The science theory of Max Weber was one of Schutz’s interests. Others included science-theoretical concepts of Hans Kelsen, economical views of Fritz Machlup and sociological views of Talcott Parsons. Schutz established the limitations of science-theoretical concepts by scientists. This limitation was the needs of specific disciplines and therefore, they rarely reached the level of philosophy.

As a philosopher, his objective was to evaluate the practices of the cultural sciences. He sought to ask clever questions and to integrate with the reasoning of scientists. He sought to interpret the work of scientists in order to get rid of some challenges in the basis of the structure of science; this was rarely inspected by scientists (Cuzzort & King, 2001).

The philosophy of the social sciences associated with Schutz is phenomenological. This shows that he pensively analyzed the constructions of socio-cultural objects with the meaning of day to day existence. His approach was based on “constitutive phenomenology of the natural attitude” as suggested by Husserl.

Schutz had considered this adequate for his science-theoretical objectives, though, he appreciated the transcendental phenomenology. The three main line of thoughts of his philosophy of the social sciences include religion definition, categories clarification and articulation of postulates (Daniels, 2000).

There was a challenge of the delimitations in the sphere of social sciences in wide and constricted importance. Schutz suggested that all science is theoretical “pre-constituted sub-universe of a discipline.” He devoted his writings to differentiate the practical and theoretical attitudes. In some of his writings, Schutz classified the positive sciences and had few ideas on the formal sciences.

This conception and his resistance to positivism suggested that he did not support application of mathematics in cultural sciences. Nevertheless, he supported it in economics, probably the social science with the most applied mathematics (Wagner, 1970).

On the idea of understood difference between sciences of form and sciences of content, Schutz divided sciences of content into the cultural and naturalistic. He agreed with his predecessors on the significance of cultural over the naturalistic sciences. This is because he conceived the world as concretely cultural. This implied that the world is understood in the common-sense degree of daily life and normal language.

He also asserted that cultural sciences provided a lot of human knowledge as compared to naturalistic sciences. Schutz did not perceive psychology as a cultural science; however, he differentiated the social science in constricted importance from the historical sciences. Another subject of Schutz’s hypothesis of the cultural sciences is the explanation of the groups or “fundamental concepts” of the sciences (Daniels, 2000).

Another subject of Schutz’s viewpoint of cultural sciences is tactic in a constricted meaning. It concerns regulations of processes, which are expressed with assumptions. These are to be gotten through thoughtful examination and examination of definite scientific theory (Zeitlin, 2000). Phenomenology is perhaps the most important philosophical faction of the 20th Century, in the sphere of social sciences.

Schutz contributed to informed sociological studies and other fields including psychology, education and health sciences. Schutz’s phenomenological ideas form the basis of reasoning that find it’s important to comprehend the meaning associated with people and their actions in relation to behaviors.


Cuzzort, R. P., & King, E. W. (2001). Social Thought into the Twenty-First Century, 6th Edition. New York: Harcourt College Publishing.

Daniels, V. (2000). Lecture on phenomenology. Rhonert Park, CA: Sonoma State University.

Wagner, H. (1970). Introduction. On phenomenology and social relations: selected writings, by Alfred Schutz. Edited by H. R. Wagner. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Zeitlin, I. (2000). Ideology and the Development of Sociological Theory (7th Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Publishers.

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